We have seen and witnessed the explosive transformation of the NFL offensive landscape. As the question was asked fifteen years ago, at what point will college football’s concepts and philosophies creep into the NFL? Well, that time is now.
From an X&O’s stand point, the old style professional offenses like the Single Wing , Wing T (multiple backs in the backfield creating a wall of blockers), three yards and a cloud of dust (power running game that concentrated on running between the tackles) and Vince Lombardi’s “run to daylight offense” (the Packer Sweep) were staples of the AFL and NFL.
While the college ranks’ Wishbone and Flexbone never made it to the professional level of competition, the early stages of the NFL welcomed Air Coryell (power running game that created play action for a vertical passing attack), Split Back, Pro-Style, I-Formation (all two back systems), Run and Shoot and the Spread (quarterback detached from under center in a deep set with single back and multiple receivers).
The new wave of offense that was created in the late 70’s was the West Coast Offense (a short passing game considered an extended handoff with run after catch production creating mismatches in space with heavy terminology). It has stood the test of time and is still used today.
A new wave of offense has migrated into the NFL; it’s called “the Pistol.” This offense places the quarterback in a short set shot gun position, with a single back and multiple receivers (wide receivers or combination of receivers and tight ends spread out or bunched). The single scheme within the Pistol offense that has blown up NFL defenses and is keeping defensive coordinators up at night is the read option. It is an option play were the quarterback rides the running back into the line of scrimmage, creating a mesh point, while reading the EMLOS (end man on line of scrimmage) with some teams pulling and trapping that defender as well. This creates a mismatch on the edge of the defense.
In order for the scheme to work you need a special quarterback at the helm, one with exceptional running skills. The Carolina Panthers have Cam Newton, the Washington Redskins have Robert Griffin III, the Seattle Seahawks have Russell Wilson and the San Francisco 49ers have Colin Kaepernick, who has taken the NFC by storm.
With the final four teams set to battle on Championship Weekend (New England vs. Baltimore and San Francisco vs. Atlanta) for a trip to play in Super Bowl XLVII, there is a strong possibility that the NFL will see the first Pistol Offense run in a Super Bowl on February 3rd. Not only is change good, it’s exciting.